Today completely filled in, the ancient port of Fréjus, the remains of which were listed as a Historical Monument in 1886, is located inland. The entrance to the port was marked by a construction known as the "Lanterne d'Auguste".
Fréjus and its monuments, 2000 years of history
Lanterne d'Auguste: history
Today completely filled in, the ancient port of Fréjus, the remains of which were listed as a Historical Monument in 1886, is located inland. The entrance to the port was marked by a construction known as the "Lanterne d'Auguste". It is actually a daymark – a landmark for sailors. This 10-meter-high hexagonal building, crowned with a six-sided pyramid, rests on an older building made up of two exedras (in a building an exedra is a conversation room equipped with seats or benches. It usually has a semi-circular layout).
The ancient lighthouses were the first maritime signals with lights that appeared at the same times as naval fleets began to develop. Seen both among the Greeks and the Romans.
The dead reckoning used by the ancient Greeks and Romans is not very accurate. Reaching the coast in a quite large sector compared to the final destination, the navigator then has to complete the route by navigating along the coast using natural landmarks and maritime signals.
The name “lantern” is not appropriate for this building which cannot be a lighthouse. The name “phare” for a lighthouse comes from the Greek word pharos, which is the name of the island where the Alexandria lighthouse was located - a symbol because of its extraordinary architecture.
The role of lighthouses is to save sailors, and they are often crowned by a statue of a deity dedicated to a lifesaving saving god. Sailors have no hesitation in entrusting their navigation to the divinities of the ports, praying to them at sea and thanking them when arriving safely.
As a lighthouse is a tower at the top of which a light burns, it means there has to be a staircase to reach the top, which is not the case in Fréjus because the building is solid.
The ruins of a Roman lighthouse have been discovered on the small island of Lion de Mer in the bay of Saint Raphaël. This lighthouse certainly indicated the entrance to the channel of the Roman port of Fréjus.
The construction technique used is that commonly used in Frejus - small brown sandstone blocks from the Esterel Massif with a slaked lime mortar.
The name “Auguste” certainly comes from the fact that the Roman Emperor Augustus (-63, 14) first Roman Emperor (-27, 14), built the port with General Agrippa after the victory of Actium in 31 BC.
There is also a tufa construction on the site which has not yet revealed all its mysteries, some think it is a temple or a structure that allowed a chain to be drawn up that closed the entrance to the port, as Vitruvius mentions in his treatise on architecture.
There is also a large wall attached to the lantern, a crenelated wall protecting the channel.
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